Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful for the man who grew the green pumpkin

Last Sunday, which we call Harvest Sunday at our church, our minister told us to watch the movie It's a Wonderful Life to prepare for his Advent sermons.  I'm assuming he is going to talk about what difference our existence has made in other people's lives.  Or, is he going to ask "what if" someone had never come across our paths?  What would life be like?

I immediately thought of the man who grew the green pumpkins.

On the first Sunday in June  - I think it was 2008 - just as I was about to leave for church, he showed up at my door with a cousin.  "May we make a vegetable garden down at your farm?" he asked.  He had seen the farm that past December when he went down to clean out all the overgrown shrubbery around my late parents' house.

In the fall of 2002, when everything seemed very bleak, a workman quit and left a hole where my bathroom window should have been.  I had no idea what to do.  A friend recommended a landscape worker who could fix anything.  I begged his employer to let him come to see if he could put my window back together.

I can't even list all of the things he has done for me over the years.  I had a situation where the limestone surround at my front door started coming loose.  Several masons came to give me estimate, but no one would even touch it, much less give me a price.  So, one day the landscape worker stopped by and said, "No problem. I can fix that for you."

The same workman who had left me with no bathroom window also tore a two-story wall out of my house, and it stayed that way for over a year.  He kept bringing contractors to give me estimates.  I could have built another house for the amounts they came up with.  But in the end, no one wanted the job even at highway robbery prices.

Again, the man who grew the pumpkin walked in.  Within two days, he had put my house back together for the cost of wages and materials.

He and his family now have two large vegetable gardens at the farm.  They go every weekend and work, keeping the fences up and planting winter and summer crops.  He saves seeds for the next year's planting.

Which brings me to the pumpkin. This family man - he has three young daughters who are so sweet and polite and loving - works every day except for Saturday afternoon and  Sunday.  From his Saturday job, he acquired a green pumpkin last year when his employer discarded it after Halloween.  He took the pumpkin, and he and his wife cut it open and cooked the flesh, using some brown sugar and butter.  He also saved the seeds and planted them at the farm.

The result was seven large green pumpkins this year.  When the frost got the vines in late October, it was a fun sight to see these odd-colored pumpkins on the ground.  The deer hunter's children picked them up and loaded them into my car.  From there, the pumpkins made the journey to my church where they formed the centerpieces for a Flower Guild luncheon on November 10th.  Then, back to my car again and home to my basement.  Last Saturday, they went back to the church and were used in the giant cornucopia on the altar.  People were fascinated with the green pumpkins.

Then, on Tuesday, I went back to church to bring the pumpkins home.  On the way back, I drove to the airport to pick up my children.  At the moment I popped my trunk, I realized what they would see.  They are still laughing about that sight - a trunk full of green pumpkins.

So, Thanksgiving morning, the pumpkins safely back in my basement, my son-in-law and I chose one to use on the dining room table.  I picked some beech leaves and used a butternut squash from the farm to add to the centerpiece.

When we stood there saying the blessing, I silently gave a little prayer of thanksgiving for the man who grew the green pumpkin.  I don't know where I would be without him.  He's just one of those people who came into my life - I suppose he must have been sent to me when I desperately needed help.

This weekend, I'm going to return the pumpkins to him so he can save the seeds.  If all goes well, I'll have another green pumpkin on my Thanksgiving table again next year.

Friday, November 22, 2013

One yellow reminds me of another

A lot of the trees are bare now, but the ones that still have leaves are quite spectacular.  It's that last gasp of what we consider autumn (although we have another month left before winter officially arrives).

Yesterday, I went roaming onto my new neighbor's property.  I don't know the name of the person who purchased the six acres next to me, but I do know that he lives on the other side of the world.  What he plans to do with what is a rather historic piece of land, I can't imagine.  The house has been vacant now for months.

So, I thought it would be okay to go up the hill and cut the wisteria back.   It's threatening both of us, and the more I can get rid of or at least make sure it won't bloom next year, the better (I understand if you cut the vines after August, you cut off next year's flowers; let's hope so).

Anyway, I decided it would be okay if I walked around and looked to see what was there.  This is the better half (property-wise) of an estate that belonged to a Georgia governor in the late 19th century.  The grounds are so beautiful.  It breaks my heart to see the venerable landscape going to ruin. There are giant, ancient boxwoods. There's a huge yew (or could it be a cephalotaxus? We don't have many yews around here).  I stopped and pulled English ivy from the base of a very old hemlock that is magnificent.

I didn't think there was anything really unusual, plant-wise, but I was curious.  There is a yellow wood tree (Cladrastris kentukea) that used to bloom every other year.  I know this from my former neighbors, the ones before the woman who just owned the property and sold it to the foreign investor.

But, as I came down some 120-year-old granite steps, I was startled to see the native yellow witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) absolutely covered in blooms.  There were two very large specimens, maybe 15 feet tall.  I remember when my friends Erica Glasener and Kathryn MacDougald were coming back from Virginia where they'd been on an HGTV shoot for A Gardener's Diary and stopped and took slides of some wild witch hazels.  I was irritated that they took so many with my camera and that we couldn't really use them.  But, they were thrilled to stumble upon this fall-blooming shrub in the wild.

I didn't get a picture of the witch hazels next door.  It was  getting dark, and I didn't have my camera.  Besides, the flowers don't show up much because of the other fall colors around.  In fact, I had walked up those same steps only a half hour before and hadn't even noticed the odd, but very prolific yellow flowers.

So, I have picked out the photograph above to illustrate the color of the blossoms.  And, these finely cut leaves of a Japanese maple sort of mimic the odd, spidery blooms of the witch hazel.

If I have the nerve to sneak back up there, I'll see if I can get some close-ups of the flowers.  This time, though, I'm going to wear my tall rubber boots.  I guess my punishment for trespassing was an encounter with something in the tall grasses that made me itch all over like crazy.

One last comment.  I will be interested to see if the mysterious foreigner (alleged to be a billionaire) ever shows up.  Eventually, I'm thinking someone will tear down the dated modern house built there in the late 1950's.  I just hope they'll be respectful of the landscape.  It is truly one of the gems of this part of the world.  To be continued...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A wolf in sheep's clothing

The first spring I lived on this property, I thought I had fallen into a fairyland.  When April came, the tall trees surrounding the little cottage - the latter 1/5 mile from the street and hidden in the woods - were festooned with magnificent lavender blossoms that formed a vast, high canopy overhead.

The flowers looked like clusters of grapes.  They were tangled in every tree, high and low, and were suspended from great, thick ropes that wound through the branches and went from tree top to tree top.  You could look up, and it seemed like you were in a vast and magical purple mansion that went on and on.

 It wasn't long until I realized that the scented blossoms of Chinese wisteria were part of a sinister plot to ruin everything around me.  Every shrub I planted became choked by this insidious monster.  On the bank where someone before me had planted scores of daffodils, the vines grew up and covered the tender foliage that already had to make it up through a blanket of English ivy.  I began a serious war with wisteria that has lasted for decades and which I have not yet won.

Year before last, I noticed that the evil pods, so innocently covered with tan suede, had popped open in February and spread the dark brown glossy seeds everywhere.  I could only get to those that happened to fall in the driveway or in the parking lot at the cottage.  The rest were hopelessly lost in the woods.

The pods are bursting open and coming down early this year.  I've been picking them up for a week now.  I don't know if this means anything about the winter (I did see a black, fuzzy caterpillar the other day; isn't that a sign of a bad time to come?).  But, I do know that the amount of seeds raining down with the falling leaves means more wisteria to come up and wrap around trees faster than I can even spot the impossible-to-pull-up vines.

Soon, the leaves will turn yellow, like the innocent-looking ones above.  There is a very narrow window when you can distinguish the vines from whatever they are choking.  I cut down everything I see to the ground.  In the past, this hacking away has only slightly helped me in my war against the invader.  This year, though, I'm afraid the pods have made sure there'll be a generous new crop.

Long ago, I envisioned training everything into lovely wisteria trees.  Now, I don't dare even try.  I even bought four plants to go on an iron arbor.  I ended up cutting them all down, as they wound so tightly around the upright poles that I feared the thick trunks would pull the structure down.

Today, I'll set out again to see if I can spot any pods that haven't opened.  Maybe by stopping them now, I can save myself some time and trouble next spring, when the seedlings emerge.  There's a tiny window then, too, when you can still pull the new vines out of the ground.

I'm afraid I'm going to be fighting this battle for a long time.  I went to pick some variegated pittosporum the other day, and in just a few short months, the vines had crept up and were strangling the shrub.   How can anything so beautiful and seemingly innocent in the spring be so strong and evil the rest of the year?

Friday, November 15, 2013

No peanut butter sandwich this year

The call came unexpectedly this afternoon.

"I won't be having a peanut butter sandwich at home this Thanksgiving," declared 97-year-old Magaret Moseley.  "That 29 degree weather did the ginkgo leaves in.  They fell before they had all turned yellow."

I could hear frustration and disappointment in her voice.

"I wait all year, and then this happens," she said.

I felt bad because I know how Margaret watches her tree like a hawk.  When all the leaves are golden, she will not leave the house under any circumstance, not even for Thanksgiving dinner with her family.  She won't budge until she gets to see the spectacle of the silky fan-shaped leaves cascade down all at once.

In a normal year, the leaves from the tree she planted 30 years ago follow the same pattern in November.  "You see one leaf drifting down, you'd better get ready for the show," she had explained in the past.  "It only takes about an hour, and they just come raining down.  I wouldn't miss that sight for the world."

This morning, I had noticed a tree on my route to church.  It had been way ahead of Margaret's in coloring.  The branches were bare, and the leaves had been removed, all except for a little circle at the base of the trunk.  I'd also been watching another, much bigger tree.  Like Margaret's, it had been slow to turn this year.  Last week, I noticed it was beginning to show signs of yellow.  If I'd thought about it today, I'd have taken that route to see if that tree had succumbed to the cold.

But, for Margaret, it was a disappointing year.  The leaves are all down, but they are not all yellow.  So, I'm glad I got there in a timely fashion last year to take pictures.

Now, about that rusty iron birdbath pictured above.  In my book, Margaret Moseley's A Garden to Remember, I included a section about funny episodes involving Margaret.  I did not put in about the birdbath, though.

The story is that I took my computer out to Margaret's to show her some 400+ digital photographs I had taken of her garden (we're not even talking about the hundreds of slides I have from the old days).  She kept seeing that I had photographed this birdbath a lot, and she finally asked me if I was hinting for her to leave it to me in her will.  I had it in spring, with blue Scilla hispanica at its base.  In fall, when most of the other ground covers had disappeared, the large Ajuga reptans 'Caitlin's Giant' shows off the rich, rusty color.  In winter, it is backed by a daphne (also in this photograph) and Margaret's newest pet camellia, 'C. M. Wilson'.

One time I was out there and noticed she had a copper iris growing up around it, and combined with the coppery new foliage of autumn fern, the combination was stunning.  A few years passed, and I saw that she'd planted the light apricot-colored Iris 'Beverly Sills', which made a striking contrast, as well.

Maybe my favorite incarnation, though, is the photograph above, with the simple ginkgo leaves that have landed next to the rusty birds.

Every time Margaret sees one of my birdbath photographs, we get tickled.  "There's your birdbath," she'll say.  I promise I did not have my eye on that birdbath for myself.  It was given to her by her dear friend Phyllis McGuinn.  But, now that the joke has gone this far, I wouldn't mind putting my name on it.  The only thing is that given Margaret's sense of fun and her passion for gardening that still burns so brightly, she could well outlive me.

In the meantime, I'll just enjoy looking to see what Margaret has done with the birdbath.  One day I was out there, and she had floated camellia blossoms in it.  I accused her of tantalizing me.

Seriously, I hope that birdbath stays put for a long time.  When Margaret says, "I can't wait to get up every morning and put one foot in front of another so I can look out at my garden," I have no doubt that it will.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Stone, gravel and boxwoods

I am the proud owner of two new garden areas.  No, I only wish they looked like this.  I took this photograph in Bill Hudgins' Atlanta garden, right at the peak of his hundreds of Japanese maples.

But, I did have Bill in mind when I set out to tame a couple of areas around my house.  Due to the expense, I couldn't pave anything with stone, but I already had some square granite cut rocks rescued from a burned-out lodge next door (this was back in the mid-90's - another story for another time).

The stone is sitting all around my yard.  I had thought I'd end up in a little stone cottage somewhere, but that hasn't happened.  I can just picture it, with a slate roof, real shutters and roses climbing over the door.  But where is this going to be built?  I have no idea.  To be figured out in the future.

But back to what I have right now, thanks to the crazy idea I had of having my daughter's wedding at my house (which forced me to do some things).  There were two sketchy areas on either side of my house, and an eyesore of a garden down below.  Well, it couldn't be called a garden.  There used to be grass down there, surrounded by a hemlock hedge and a flower border.

But, the grass died, and to keep weeds from taking over until I figured out what to do, I put down black landscape cloth.  It was to be a temporary fix, but it lasted over 10 years.

Let me back up a bit because some other rocks figure in here.  I used to have 4,000 cobblestones (Belgian block - the big, loaf bread size ones) in my front parking court.  They came from where the Omni was built (hasn't that been torn down?).  They were never properly installed, and as the years went by, they kept sinking.  When it rained, I'd have a lake, followed by silt.  Sometimes you needed wading boots to get from the car to the front door.

On maybe the worst day of my life (not really, but it was unpleasant), a Bobcat driver came to dig them up.  I hired a dump truck to haul them down to the farm.  This seemed to be working out well until both the Bobcat driver and the truck driver quit after one day.  The Bobcat driver suggested I call a landscaper to come get the rocks, which had to weigh a zillion tons.  The truck driver made one run and said he would not do another one.

The nicest man named Buster came to my rescue.  He had a Bobcat and a dump truck, and he finished the project (he came back recently to make some new parking spaces for me - he is the best).

So, I replaced the cobblestones with pea gravel.  I like the look of it, but there are problems with certain kinds of cars getting traction.  Still, it's light years better than the sinking, uneven cobblestones.

The two new areas have some of the cobblestones as outlines and retaining walls.  The square-cut granite pieces from the house next door serve as steps.  I put in some boxwoods which I already had here (they'd been hanging out at the edge of the woods for 30 years, ever since we brought them from my mother-in-law's in Virginia).  I still lack moving another big one up to the "new" garden.

I now have two new garden areas.  One is a narrow, organized space with three iron arches, tiny pea gravel, cobblestones and boxwoods.  I may have some roses next year, if I can keep the deer away and do a better job of fertilizing.  The other is a big rectangle, a nice space for a party if I would ever have one.

 It all looks pretty good because of the elements represented above, without the brilliant Japanese maples, of course.  All I had to do was buy the pea gravel, which wasn't nearly as expensive as I had anticipated.  I have some Confederate jasmine going up the arches on one side.  I hope the roses will take off next year in the narrow area of sun alongside the house.

Come April, before the mosquitoes arrive and when we have some pleasant days, I'm going to sit out there in the mornings with my gravel and stone and boxwoods and read the paper and drink coffee.  Something to look forward to on this frosty morning.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A peaceful scene for this day of remembrance

My dearest uncle died this year.  He had been a World War II hero, having spent the winter of 1944-45 in the Vosges Mountains of France.  It was a cruel time - not enough warm clothing or even any boots, freezing cold temperatures, snow and ice on the floor of the forest.  Still, my uncle's unit slogged on and drove the Germans back, and by the spring, arrived in Berchtesgaden.

I think I may have written here about his memorial service.  I had a black eye at the time, and a friend had lent me some concealer, which I had caked on heavily.  All was well until a bugler stood at the back of the historic Presbyterian Church in the town of Monticello, Georgia, and played taps.  I lost it, as well as all of my concealer.  I looked down at my crumpled tissue, and it was flesh-colored.  At the reception afterwards, my aunt said she had not noticed my black eye when we gathered before the service.  

Every year, I called my uncle on November 11th.  In our last conversation, he was very cheerful and thanked me.  Then, he asked how my mother and daddy were getting along.  My heart sank.  My parents had been deceased for several years.  I just couldn't believe that he was starting to get dementia. He had been the one in the family who was the executor for everyone's will.  He took care of two of his nephews after they lost their parents.  He was the youngest of nine children, and until this summer, the only survivor.  We all leaned on him.

A few years back, I found a bunch of his letters in a suitcase in my parents' attic.  There were a lot of pictures of him, as well.  The letters were addressed to his mother and to my mother, his sister.  The ones to his mother, many written in pencil, said he was doing just fine.  You would have thought he was on a vacation.  In the letters to Mother, he admitted that it was very cold, but there was no hint of the constant danger he was in nor of the true misery he had to endure. 

I have a lot of colorful fall photographs, and I agonized over one that would set the tone for this day.  I finally chose this one because it is not sad and reflects the calm disposition of my sweet uncle.  He was loved by so many, and I will forever miss him and remember his comforting voice and his gentle ways.  He was a true hero, but he never talked about that cold, horrifying winter until he was in his 80's.  Somehow, though, he would always end on a cheerful note and manage to make you feel it was really not all that extraordinary.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

This fall day and the geese overhead

It started this morning when I turned the TV on.  The channel was set on HBO, and there was a documentary about Pakistani women who had been mutilated by their husbands or other men who had thrown acid in their faces.  I should have changed over to watch the comedy shows I record to avoid the news.

But, I watched the whole thing, and that sort of set the mood for the day.  Then, other news came.  A friend's cancer had come back.  Another was struggling as a caregiver for a spouse, and I could tell was feeling overwhelmed.  I talked at length to someone worried about an alcohol problem in the family.  It sounded so hopeless.

It did help to go to church and do some decorating for a luncheon tomorrow.  My cohorts Peggy and Benjie laughed as I hoisted myself up onto a precarious ledge (above a fish pond) to steal some oakleaf hydrangea leaves.  Peggy took a picture with her phone camera.  I had on all black and looked like the thief that I was.  Committing a petty crime in the columbarium, the sacred resting place where I may be someday, was probably not a good idea.

In the afternoon, I was hit with a fit of nostalgia.  I had the TV on while I was doing some catch-up work.  The sound of the football game (am I imagining that Southern college games sound different from Northern ones?) between Tennessee and Auburn reminded me of autumns gone by.  I walked outside.  It was cold and cloudy, and some scent of fall carried me back to Vanderbilt.  I realized how safe I had felt there, and how much hope you always had for the future when you were nineteen.

Back in the kitchen, I looked out the window and thought how my own life had taken such an unexpected turn.  Just then, a big flock of geese flew over in a perfect V formation.  We never had Canada geese growing up, so I don't know how that contributed to my nostalgia.  Maybe I just felt a tinge of sadness at the beauty of it all, of how the leaves drifted down, the colors in the forest.

Tonight, I started looking at photographs from other autumns (like the one above, taken in an Atlanta garden), which cheered me up immensely.  A friend sent a reassuring e-mail.  And then - maybe I dreamed this - I heard an announcer on the television say that Vanderbilt had beaten Florida.  The day has ended on a good note, after all.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is it okay not to be a native?

Someone - I can't remember who- said years ago that the state of Georgia would not look the same if it weren't for China and Japan.  The person was referring mostly to spring flowers, mainly azaleas and cherry trees.  While we have lovely, very desirable native azaleas and some from Florida that are showy, it's mostly the azaleas from Japan that make Atlanta look like a fairyland in spring.

While it's true that many exotics (by that, I mean from foreign lands) are highly ornamental, that's not to say that we don't have our own extraordinary beauty here, in the fall and in the spring.

Take my street, for example.  Last week, the leaves changed all of a sudden.  The hickories turned bright golden yellow, and the sourwoods and maples became gorgeous blends of orange and red and yellow.  There's one tree that I love that is sort of coral orange, and when it is backlit by the sun, it is breathtaking.  (Oops, I know what it is, but I can't think at the moment).

My neighborhood has a lot of beech trees, but they turn a bit later.  I always bring in some branches for Thanksgiving and throw in some bittersweet and rose hips for a dining room arrangement.

So, is it okay to have trees and shrubs from foreign lands invade our landscapes in the fall?  I say yes.  I confess that Japanese maples do not fit with my house or my woods.  I had one, grown from a seedling, that I gave away.  It just didn't look right here.

At one time, there was a person around town that we journalists called the "Native Plant Nazi."  Many times when I would feature a plant from another country in my column in the newspaper, she would call me up and scold me.  I heard her say once that if she saw an ox-eye daisy, she would destroy it.  Those are the white daisies that have naturalized in the meadows and along roadsides in the South.  When I was growing up, the people next door had a lovely little field just covered in the flowers.  I confess I snuck (is there such a word?) under their barbed wire fence many times to pick bouquets.

What does this have to do with the above photograph?  Obviously, the blinding yellow and orange trees are Japanese maples.  Who can begrudge those colors?  The owner of these trees has them scattered all about his wooded property, where he has plenty of native trees, as well.  He has not disturbed what is growing there.

In this scene, you can also see a native American tree on the right (still green), one of the big-leaf, deciduous magnolias.  I'm not sure which one this is, but I think it is Magnolia macrophylla.  I know he has a much bigger one on down this same path.

Don Shadow, a great plantsman from Winchester, Tennessee, who has supplied many nurseries and landscapes all over the country from his wholesale operation, once said he never believed in hoarding a plant.  In other words, if someone discovered a sport on a shrub, but kept it for himself so he'd have the only one in existence, he thought that to be egregious.

Don has plants from all over the world in his nursery.  I remember seeing a Davidia involucrata (i.e. dove tree; handkerchief tree) out in front of his office.  Some explorer friends of mine went to the very spot where E.H. Wilson had found a grove of them in China.  That must have been a breathtaking sight to come upon these unusual trees in the wild.  Before Wilson, only single specimens had been found, first by Pere Armand David, a French missionary who lived in China (think Clematis armandii).

Also, Don had rows and rows of the Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus), which is a beautiful spring tree.  There is a large specimen at the Augusta National, and to catch it backlit in bloom is absolutely breathtaking.

I've rambled here, but I just wanted to say that fall color can come from the leaves of so many or our own trees, from the glorious foliage of the native oakleaf hydrangea and the indigenous climbing hydangea,Decumaria barbara , but just as well from the foreign Japanese Solomon's seal the crepe myrtles that turn a spectacular orange.

Frankly, I like just about anything from anywhere, and I greatly appreciate the risks explorers took to bring them to us.  Therefore, my answer to the title question:  "Yes, it's okay not to be a native, as long as we celebrate and revere our own home-grown beauty."

Monday, November 4, 2013

More than one meaning for All Saints Day

Yesterday, we celebrated All Saints Day at our church.  This day is special to me for a number of reasons.  One, my late husband loved the service because we always sang his favorite hymn, "For All the Saints."  And, two, this is the day in 2001 when I realized that we didn't have to endure pink carnations and glads on our altar during the month of November, when there should be fall colors instead.

That Sunday, two years after my husband died suddenly in 1999, All Saints Episcopal, a century-old church in downtown Atlanta,  held a flower festival.  There were all sorts of fall branches and hydrangeas in their autumn colors mixed in with greenery like camellia foliage.  There was not a pink flower in evidence.  All the roses were orange or rust-colored, and great balls of orange and red bittersweet hung from the ceiling.  People had brought scarlet oak leaves from their homes and colorful berries from viburnums and callicarpas.   There were even a few fuzzy tall blue ageratums, the bane of some gardeners (the flowers spread like crazy and show up in autumn where you don't want them).  Surprisingly, they looked natural among all the other leaves and branches.

Long story short, I tackled David Lowe, the head of the All Saints Flower Guild to get information on how they accomplished such a display with volunteers.  Then, I went to our minister that week and told him what I had seen. He said he had wanted to start a flower guild when he first came to our church.  Two weeks later, on what we call Harvest Sunday (the Sunday before Thanksgiving), I walked into our church,  On the altar were yet another two arrangements of pink carnations and glads, shaped in a rigid triangle.  That did it.  Along with another person who is very organized (I have the unorganized brain, whichever side that is), we started the Peachtree Road United Methodist Flower Guild.

Fast forward to yesterday, November 3, 2013.  The opening hymn was "For All the Saints".  Next, candles were lit as the names were called of church members who had died in 2013. Then, from the back of the church, a lone bagpiper in a kilt came down the aisle playing Antonin Dvorak's "Going Home".  This was another song my husband loved and always joked that he wanted at his funeral.  Little did we know that it would come so suddenly and so soon.  We didn't have bagpipes at his service, but our organist played both "Going Home" and "For All the Saints."

The flowers shown above were actually not on the altar yesterday.  They were arranged for the memorial service for a friend who died last week.  If you look closely, you'll see there are red crabapples in the top center of the arrangement.  Some orange ones are hanging down in front.  Another flower guild member and I chose the flowers to be bright and cheerful, but in colors that were consistent with the season.  I picked branches of Camellia sinensis and Lonicera fragrantissima at my house to use with the flowers.  We did break down and buy a few glads since we needed something thin and pointed to make the lines.  Included in the arrangement are orange-coral roses, yellow and orange Asiatic lilies, and a few rust-colored chrysanthemums.

This was my first foray into arranging.  I always bring the foliage, but I watch the others on my Flower Guild team create the arrangement.  I can tell what's wrong, but I don't know how to start from scratch.  Donna Ludtke, head of the Flower Guild, and I kept saying, "Remember the triangle."  Arrangements that are rounded or vase-shaped do not look right on our altar.  I'm okay with the triangle, as long it doesn't look like those timeworn pink arrangements we used to have in our old sanctuary.

This coming Harvest Sunday, we're going to have a giant cornucopia on the altar.  We did that the first year in our new sanctuary when the Flower Guild had been going for a few months.  Yesterday, I picked some green pumpkins at the farm.  Some other members went to an after-Halloween sale and bought plenty of gourds and all manner of pumpkins.  I need to visit my new source of bittersweet.  Last year, some people honked their horns at me.  I think they wondered what a woman of my age was doing leaning against a steep bank on a busy road.  I'll post the results here, if I live to tell about it.